View Full Version : Environment Demo Reel

09 September 2005, 07:23 PM
Hello everbody,
Please let me know what you think of this demo reel. I am trying to get a job as a level designer/envrionment artist.

Right click and save target as...

just to save people time from going to the last page, unless you want to and read everbody post(I am amazed that nobody really copies each other like i see in so many other forms). but here is the link to the one of the levels that I have done a complete overhall too...

divx (
xvid (

09 September 2005, 09:08 PM
Not bad...couple of minor crits though.

- You have a lot of simple repeated textures; all the walls in the asylum are the same, the floors seem the same...travelling though it I felt like nothing changed or got interesting. There were no props/pipes/random object lying around.

- It looks like the demo was sponsored by Coke. Every other shot has a coke vending machine in it. You also seem to have modelled and textured one thing, then just duplicated it throughout the reel; tables, bunk beds, doors. Everything looks the same. Try creating a variation of the texture maps to make things look like they have their own identity, and not just clones of each other.

- Your Email is IMPOSSIBLE to read. Before sending out that reel I would definitely change it to something legible, so people can contact you if you like.

Didn't mean this to sound harsh, you'e got some good texturing ability and the geometry was very clean. I also like the presentation. The Sphere was interesting, you may want to lead with that.

Good luck!!:thumbsup:

09 September 2005, 09:16 PM
No, your not being to harsh thats why I put it up here. I will start to make some changes. make things more unique. I only had one week for each one. but now that i have more time I can make things more interstring. Thanks

09 September 2005, 09:30 PM
Yeah I agree with the above, you need to work your textures and make the environment more interesting with props and maybe some decay through textures and models. And yeah the font is barely readable, you should make it as clear as possible....Other than that itís a good start, keep at it.

09 September 2005, 09:38 PM
Thanks people please keep them comming

09 September 2005, 04:55 AM
don't want to make it sound like we're beating a dead horse but, you got some skill in the modelling department, the geometry atleast for me was nice :thumbsup: , but the texturing was kinda ify, that bump you use was repetative, but more so than anything, maybe make the models you made more unique, where not all the tables, chairs and bunk beds are the same, you may have scratches, nics, and cuts for tables. If it is a concentration camp (prison), look at more reference pics and see the pattern in what they have and what you can add to yours, another thing was lighting...that was the main thing for me that you need to put more time into...especially for an environmental artist, i would pick up the lighting abit, let people see what your trying to convey.whether your using that dim lighting to hide certain faults, which is fine i think, but make it brighter. Like in the mess hall...

well thats pretty much what i saw, good work though keep it up :thumbsup:

09 September 2005, 07:00 AM
Again thank you for your response to my demo reel. If anybody else can see anything that the dont like or do like please let me know.... I hope to have a newer version up in a couple of days. Thanks again

09 September 2005, 07:38 AM
Well to be honest the camera movement really annoyed me. It's like your trying make it move like a person walking through the level but not really pulling it off. There were times when I wished the camera would turn to actually look at something in the room instead of just robotic and blinkered movement. I recommend you think more about what you are actually trying to show rather than pretending your in a game.

If there's a model that you are particularly proud of, or the texture is really great, then focus on it and give the viewer a chance to appreciate it. You have a good foundation of knowledge of modelling and texturing but your presentation is currently poor. The fancy font is difficult to read at best. Keep it clear and simple.

Now get to work soldier! :)

09 September 2005, 10:10 AM
put some music on the background, maybe adjust the brightness cause it's all pretty hard to see. And I would definently change the font, I could read about 5% of it ;)

Other than that, nice design! Have you ever experimented with normal maps? That would be something people would like to see in an environment demoreel too.

I dig the Sphere thingy, it's really nice how they spray those particles on the sphere!

09 September 2005, 05:43 PM
Agreed on the textures and camera movement. Also to add that all the objects are in perfect alignment, row by row, line by line, Tables stack on top of each other have their edges met perfectly.

To sum it up and excuse my bluntless, it was a very boring reel. Variety and detail are the key, models and textures-wise, study textures of real life objects and try to replicate it. Watch game demo videos to see how they are interesting to the viewer.

Yea the email is totally unreadable.

Keep working on it, there is potential, but plenty of room for improvement.

09 September 2005, 11:45 PM
Thanks again, I have started to redo the levels hopefully in about a week I will have another version ready for you guys... So far there are alot more objects in the scene and the textures are not so repeating. I have also changed up the lighting, and fixed the font. as for the music and the camera animation I will leave the same. I dont think I am going to put any music to it because if somebody dose not like the music then they wont like the reel no matter how good it could be. For the camera animation, I have it set I think I will do still to show off parts of the level that I am most proud of instead of focusing a couple of things in the level. I am not a great camera animator. I hope to also add another enviroment that is availble on my website if there is enough time on the reel left. I am still trying to keep the reel under 5 mins. Thanks for all of your post, they have been very helpfull. if anybody sees anything else that they dont like or and area of improvement that has been over looked please let me know. Dont worry there is no such thing as being to harsh. Thats why I put it up here, I can take a crituqe as long as you are not trying to be mean. Hopefully when I am finished with this reel it might land me a job somewhere.

Thanks guys!!!

09 September 2005, 11:51 PM
One question for everbody: What is the difference between somebody that know how to make a level in a software package (ie Max, Maya) vs. somebody that know how to make one in a Level Editor? What do companies look for more?

09 September 2005, 01:56 AM
Technically, this is about the same thing, though someone will knowledge of a particular editor, UED for example, is more likely to land a job using that editor than someone without. Now the big difference is someone who has WORKING level IN A GAME, versus someone who built some environments in an editor. As an employer, this is the difference between someone that know's what they are doing and someone that does not. When I see your reel, it seems too artificial, as though you just toss some random textures on boxes instead of building a playable, fun level. Additionally, things like that coke machine reveal your textures as nothing more than images found on google. Even if you put a lot of work into some of them, thier value is destroyed by things like that. Portfolio images or scenes from a demo reel featuring art rendered in a game (environments, characters, etc.) is considered more valuble. This is why we call it GAME ART and not max art or maya art.

09 September 2005, 03:16 AM
Using editor to me gives you advantage of showing it as a real game :) I had a teacher who used to work at Blizzard north. He said he really likes it when a person coming for interview actually turns on his laptop and let the interviewer plays the level he worked on. You can also easily run the game and have a real character running around it and take a screen capture and put it in your reel that way and will look totally like a real game.

09 September 2005, 06:08 AM
generally speaking, a Level Designer is someone who works with the editor and "owns" the level. at some studios, the level designer creates everything in the level, start to scratch, save for some things that may be reused between levels. the Level Designer's job is to make sure the game looks good, is coherent, and plays well. at some studios, a level designer will have a "Level Artist" working for him or her. the level artist only creates art in the software package, and often recieves mockup objects from the designer to flesh out and finish. these are very vague, and the titles change from place to place. you may be a level artist somewhere, an environment artist somewhere else, or a level designer at a third place, and at any of them, you may or may not be working directly with the editor. most companies want someone that can do both and either as needed, but the job description usually specified one or the other. Level Designer is often not an entry position though.

as for the reel, i'll be cruel and blunt, and i know i'm re-iterating some of what some people have said:
it's long and boring. it takes 2:30 minutes to go through two environments that most people would run through in 20 seconds, tops.
like it's been said, your models are too spread out, and feel copy-pasted. put things together into a smaller more cohesive environment.
some of the lights flicker or change or something. that's a big no-no. you never want to show something that makes people go "what the heck is wrong with that?"
most of the modeling very simple and very low res. if you want my honest opinion, know how to model low-poly, but model everything high-res unless it is going to be in game and in action when you show it. next-gen isn't coming, it is *here* and you *won't* get a job only doing low-poly. that said, i wouldn't even show the flat shaded geometry, because quite frankly, there's not enough to show. we can tell what is bump mapped. go ahead and model all that detail that's in the normal maps, and really deck it out. show us that.
never ever fly the camera into a flat grey wall, even with a normal map. yawn-o-matic.
the lighting is bland. apart from a couple shadows, there's not much variaton.
watch the compression on the movie. it was pretty hard to see some of the work that went into the textures.
pick a different font, period. you never want your viewer to have to try to read text.
always show your best first, your second best last.
music is good.
give the viewer a hook. some reason to keep watching.
and finally, this is important: variation is key. games are limited to simple tilable textures, yes, but look at how games break that monotonous repetition. collumns and supports, pipes, wires, pieces of machinery, diverse lighting, all those are going to serve to make the level more intersting. vary the specularity and bump as well. cement isn't going to be as shiny as metal, and concrete isn't going to have that large or pronounced. variation is what keeps people watching, knowing that somethign else is coming, instead of the same thing again. make them want to watch for three minutes.

i know this all sounds probably unnecessarily harsh, but the reason i'm picking so much is because i can see the work that went into it, and the potential it has. you've got a good start, now just haul it a little further. the yoke of art isn't a light one is it?

but you never signed on for an easy job, did you?

09 September 2005, 09:32 PM
First of all. WOW!!! Thank you for that info. It will be very helpfull as guide for my project. As I push for better in hopes to finally land a job. I have done a simple lighting test. And made the envrionment not so "dull". Let me know if I am going in the right direction.

09 September 2005, 12:05 AM
Also I have a quick lighting test if you would like to see it

09 September 2005, 07:28 AM
I didn't ahve time to read all the posts so, sorry if I missed it but . . . What compression are you using? I couldn't play the video.

09 September 2005, 08:04 AM
I used a standard divx compression. I will shortly have an updated version of my demo reel up. It will be availble for quicktime as well as the divx version. and if anybody knows a good way for compression, please fill me in on it

09 September 2005, 12:38 PM
Hi there

your level is alright, like everyone said it gets kinda boring after the first 25sec or so, also I dunno if you did it intentionally but your camera speed is going from fast then normal, you know what I mean.

If I was you I'd make the camera more dramatic, e.g. like its someone walking but recording from first person view, you know like we're watching from someones eyes. I'd also get rid of the gray version, if I wanted to show them the wire version, I'd make it flash then its gone less than a sec so you'd make them say wow, I need to see that again then couple sec later, it flashes again. I'd defenetly make it interesting

that was MHO.

09 September 2005, 01:24 PM
I watched your first video and I would agree wit hthe others in thier comments on it. I just looked at your new lighting setup (the stills). With the new lighting and all the scattered objects, I think the level looks alot better now. Nice improvment over the original. The lighting test movie. While it is by no means bad, for a demo reel to show off your work, (this is just personal opinion) I found it much harder to make out the objects and detail as compared to looking at your stills.

09 September 2005, 02:04 PM
I'm not sure if anyone said this already, and I'm sure they have but you have to get rid of that horrible font your using. Just use a simple Arial with white on back.

Is this reel something you did on your own, or did you go to school to make this reel? What school did you go too?

09 September 2005, 09:34 PM
Yes, the font is gone... truth is I really like that font. I have no problems reading it untail i had to compress the demo reel then it turned to crap. but uncompressed it lood really freaking good. but I have switched it out with something more ledigable. Yes this reel was done by myself. the Aslym was made over the past month. The base was made at school, adn the shpere was also made there. The lighting scheme has changed alot since I put that light test movie up. I have yet to animate the camera again. I was hoping to maybe find a level editor that could import a maya world, and do the camera animation there... (if anybody know of one please let me know). If that does not work then it is back to animating by hand....I could not think of a good way to show the wireframe I trired a side by side and different overlays. I might have to stick with what i have or like you said a simple quick flash. If that does not work then it is back to animating by hand.... Thanks for all of the posts everybody...

09 September 2005, 10:28 PM
Here are a few more screen shots

09 September 2005, 01:59 PM
wow these last 4 shots are really good. keep em coming

09 September 2005, 08:20 PM
ok everbody. I have made a quick 10 second update in super res (1280/1024) compressed it into two different codecs with updated lights and more objects added. Let me know what everbody thinks, if I have worked out the bugs and complaints. I know there might be new ones so let me know. the next step will be to put this level into a game engine.

xvid codec ( (better quailty)
divx codec ( quality)

Also if anybody knows any way to import Maya files in to the level editor "hammer" please let me know. I have no idea on how to do this.

09 September 2005, 09:21 PM
Itís a big improvement man, keep at it.

10 October 2005, 02:01 PM
Much better. Now you if you can just add in enviromental leaky pipes or smokeys vents :)

I still have a problem with the police tape that just seems to be floating a few units off of the wall.

10 October 2005, 07:18 PM
Hey man-

Big improvement! Level seems a lot more "alive". I 100% agree with PermaGrin's "smoke vent" idea. Not only would it look cool in this kind of environment, but it shows knowledge of sprites. Of course, since your reel appears to be a software render you will either have to:

A) Render the sprites seperately and comp them into the shot, or-
B) Use a plugin to render sprites in software render (I have heard of people doing this, but have not done it myself.)

And so long as you are going all out, you may want to model a few varied props to scatter around; there are still tons of dupes in there, and anyone can model a barrel :) . Throw in a gurney, a few scattered straitjackets, some medical equipment- something varied you may find in an asylum.

And one suggestion straight from memory- If I recall, the font on the police tape is Courier or something like that- it should be the same block letters used in actual police tape to make it look accurate. People recognize police tape, they see it on CSI and in the movies. Do all you can to sell it. And have it stretch, not hang, across the doorway. Police tape is applied tight across crime scenes.

Keep it up, nice improvements so far!! :thumbsup:

10 October 2005, 09:26 PM
I agree, huge improvement

well done

10 October 2005, 09:15 AM
improved a billion percent over the original, but still alot of room for improvement in there, especially in textureing department. One big thing you need to think about is how materials wear and detriorate and why they deteriorate the way they do. The way you are doing your textures now, you or just putting a tileable texture that sorta resembles the material you are looking for and what you need to be doing is making the materials actually look like what they are supposed to be. for example, your rusty material that is on everything just resembles rust but doesn't LOOK like rust. ONce you get that you need to think about how the material detriorates and why, as I mentioned earlier. You have a rust texture that covers everything, when it would be extrememly unlikely that everything would be COMPLETELY covered in rust...some areas would probally still have flakey paint on it, or paint mixed with rust etc...the barrel would probally still have quite a bit of paint on it, but be real rusty around the edges and any raised ribbed areas. So those are some things to think about. Also, compared to 1st person shooter that are coming out for next gen you can use waaayyyy higher res textures and way more variety. I will say that the last level we did in our game has about 250 sepeperate textures with probally 40% of those being 1024x1024, 50% being 512x512, 10% lower than 512. ONe good thing about the piece is the atmosphere was starting to feel pretty good and kinda makes the texure work feel a little better....but once a potential employer wants to see the texture maps it's obviously not gonna hold up very well. Kepp pushing along and keep up with you're improvments! :thumbsup:

10 October 2005, 07:54 PM
Thanks guys... sounds like I have hammered out alot of the major problems. THe only thing left for me to do is add more detail (trhough props and textures). The rest of the level is covered in props. but I am not going to quit on this reel untail I get a paying job. I will keep posting as long as everbody keeps ripping into it. I feel like soon I might finaly see somebody say HELL YEAH! Hopefully soon :) I should have the rest rendered out in a couple more days

10 October 2005, 09:22 AM
I was wanting to know if anybody has a plugin/mel script for MAYA to export VMF files for importing into Hammer. I have not been able to find one that works

10 October 2005, 10:32 AM
hey you should check out the Bink video, compressor, you get really good results, for low sizes, and the videos come in theirt own .exe file so no need for playing around with trying to find the right codecs to play a file. very good for not giving people the excuse not to veiw your video.

a quick search should find the tools to make them, theres a free download.

nice environment, but the web site design was not good. a bit too functional, with the only decoration, those, sorry, ghastly letters.

10 October 2005, 05:54 AM
I dont really like encoding my files into an .exe file because people might think that it is a virus or something... I dont mind encoding it in a couple of different formats for people to download, also I use a dvd making program for the demo discs. But thanks for the advice it is nice to atleast have a backup plan if somebody cant play the file at all. I have an updated version for C&C.

thanks for posting guys, and please dont stop.

Xvid ( version

10 October 2005, 12:38 AM
Things to fix:

#1) Make website more proffesional.

#2) Change font on caution tape.

#3) Don't focus camera on caution tape.

#4) Remove bump from caution tape.

#5) Edit animation curves on camera. (make more realistic movements this way)

#6) Remove bump from metal food displays.

OK those are minor in comparrison to the original issues that you had with your reel and are very quick and easy fixes.

This reel so far has improved immensely. I think you've come a LONG way since you first started working on it. I think you should add something scary at then. There needs to be a climax because you've given the illusion of it building up to something pretty well so far. I see bullet holes briefly in the wall... some blood, guts, body parts or all of that would be helpful to sell the mood. Empty casings on the floor, blood splatter... I now think you need sound... find some sounds somewhere of a siren for the alarm and play that in the begining and then fade it out as heart beat and swallowing take over.... bring in the sounds of metal banging against pipes or the steel drums, foot steps, and heavey breathing as the camera comes into the food court area and slows the sounds get quiter then a look around the corner quickly and a extremely loud SHREEK and something scary as HELL looks dead into the camera. SH*T yeah I'm ready to play it. You could make DOOM look like poo if you added all that! Either way you've got to have something to make it climatic and leave your audience wanting more. Great Job so far Meep... You're almost there!

10 October 2005, 12:02 AM
Ok everybody, I have given one of the levels a complete overhall and I want to know what everbody thinks. here they are

Xvid codec (

Divx codec (

And thanks for everbody who have given c&c, they have really helped!!!

It took about 2 days to update the textures and make the new models... I know that sounds like a long time but I do have to maintain a income somehow and non-paid jobs dont put food on the table... keep the posts up

The tape in progress of being fixed as i type, just got to wait for the worlds slowest computer to finish the render (not really the worlds slowest but its in the top 10). anybody have any idea for good demo reel music?

10 October 2005, 01:02 AM
It looks good but needs work =) (opps didn't see the latest one, these comments are on the first reel only)

The biggest crit I have is: Your scense need history. Every nick, scrape, trash can, stain, rumpled paper, dented pop can has a story to tell.

Right now you have some new chairs, and new pop machines. Tell a story with the objects you place. If a riot took place then tip over a few chairs, break a table, use some tables and chairs to baracade a door. Make a baracade that is broken thru as if a they tried to break up the riot. Some cloth privacy curtains maybe? Also change some of the signs to "Phyc Ward B" instead of "Cells". It helps create the idea there is more than what you are showing. If there is a B there must be an A? What about a C? How do I get there? Are there signs that tell me how? Is there a stair way or security gate? THings you don't have to make but can easily make people think exsist.

Break open a pop machine and spill cans of coke in the hall way. Make some more tiny props like a cleaning cart, some wheel chairs, hanging straight jackets. Also take the time to design a soda machine ad and don't just rip photos from a google image search =P Have some fun with it show them you have imagination and make a mock cola. You could have some fun with the ad after all it is in a nut hatch =P

Everything looks as if it was charted out on a blue print and built exactly to spec. The chairs are exactly the same distance apart in a real break/planning room that wouldn't be the case. The break planning room seems short, like I would bump my head if I was to stand in there?

Don't be afraid to use google to get ideas ( (not textures like the pop machines).

10 October 2005, 11:18 AM
thanks for the quick reply, I take it that your critque was on the first version of the demo and not the most recent. I would not want the player to be triping over object while they make there way through the level. I am about to start on a new level, an outside envrionment, and who know maybe even a new thread. keep posting I would love to hear what everbody think about the updated version of the level. Thanks for the idea of using props to add story and background to the environment, I know this is done alot in games but for some reason it has never crossed my mind.

10 October 2005, 10:13 PM
You didn't change anything that I can tell from the render I last saw except you finished rendering the animation. You need to post some changes if you're going to post something. Things I noticed watching this animation again are, THE CAUTION TAPE. It's beyond annoying now. Change it. No more renders without that changed. The second annoyance beyond it being the same render as before, I noticed the camera is really close to the ground at times and this is pretty bizzare change it. Bring camera back up to eye level unless we're crawling on the ground. You still need a climax. Come on Meeper show some blood a half ripped open body a hanged body a poop painting on the wall, SOMETHING! And again It's looking great, and I mean GREAT. You've come a super long way since the begining and you've gotten a lot of really good responses to your work thus far. I think I'm too excited to see the finished product because I see the potential.

10 October 2005, 10:27 PM
Thanks chillinlikeamug, the caution tape part is changed I am just waiting for aftereffects to finish so that I can post it... It will be up tonight. Also I might just have to add some blood or something I was going for a Event horizon or something from dark castle movie.. that creapy feel so my next step will be to add some partical effects and your beloved blood. also I have started on the concept art for my next level that I am going to be doing which is a post apoc. level. I know that these have been beaten into us like a dead horse but I figure that there is a lot of reference material out there for these things (haliflife2). I will be focusing mainly on the objects in the scene vs a flythrough as inthis level that I have been working on lately. but thanks for the C&C keep them comming......

10 October 2005, 11:17 PM
Cool, meep! I can't wait to see any updates for this level that come from you playing with after effects...maybe you should take some of the rendered frames into shake and throw blood around in there or if you can figure out how to in the after effucts.

Post apocalyptic is done quite often but that scene of destruction and chaos is universal and fun for games, IOW never gets old IMO, so I say bring it on. You've learned so much through this process that I would venture to say it will be half as much time to build and be built better suited for an engine with great improvements to your techniques.

It never hurts to do pre pro even though I know you hate it, it does cut down on creation time significantly.


10 October 2005, 01:37 PM
Hey everbody,

I have just finished updating my demo reel. I know its not done yet but I would like to hear what you have to say about it. please keep in mind that I have not found any good music for it and that my next bit of work will be the second level on the reel. I know that they are quite big and if you can run it the XVID version is the better of the two (and smaller )

Divx (
Xvid (

10 October 2005, 11:03 PM
ummm... sorry about that everybody just fixed it

10 October 2005, 05:12 PM
meephunter at it again! I like your sand rail all though the wheels look a bit off. Can't wait to see it finished anyhow.

I read all the posts in the forum of the other cg website. They were pretty brutal and really had nothing to offer as far as how to improve your scene. I have some suggestions. In the assylum change the camera movement. Delete the double poly's on the cell doors to eliminate the z-fighting occuring in your render. Blood!! Needs blood, vomit, brains, guts, poop, pee, sparks, fire, smoke, mold, graffiti, pills, needles, more straight jackets, hair, knives, guns, signs of a struggle, moldy food on trays, fire extinquishers expelled laying around, green goo, lights flickering, Rats running around in the darkness so you don't have to show their movements and textures so much, just a hint of rodents, roaches, Poo writting on the wall in the cells. I mean you're obviously crazy yourself so put some crazy stuff in there. It's very bland, dull, hum drum, mediocre, lacking crazy Sh!t.

Training out post; take the time to make the texture's seemless at least. Use higher res textures on your walls and ground planes. Change the position of the chairs so they're not so uniform. Add weapons, obstacle course, zip lines, dirty it up make it look fun to play and interesting to look at. Put some papers tacked to the cork board. Locks on the foot lockers. Too much to name for fixes on this level but all easy fixes and not so time consuming. You know what needs to be done on this level.

Fnally the High Res Sphere; This is a great piece, the particle effect is a little dated now but this is still a great abstract piece. This works well for any enviornment, Strange particle emitting orbs are welcome in any game I play. Looks great!

Font is working well now looks perfect. Showing software icons is great too, has more impact then just listing them. HUGE improvements keep it up!

10 October 2005, 04:56 PM
Training Facility Needs ALOT of work still, but i'm sure you'll make progress on that, as you have on the original scene. You need to use much more reference to make sure things are looking like they would in a real life setting. Don't make things how you THINK they should look, make them how they DO look. Strangly enough, it's very easy to fall into that trap if you aren't conciously thinking about it while you're wokring on your art. The one thing that made me really think about this was those horrible chairs in the cafeteria. Have you seen a chair in real life which looks like that? I odn't think I have. Do a couple searches on google for industrial chairs or somthing. Your first environment has the benefit of being dark so it makes all your texturing and modeling look better, but you don't have that benefit of the dark lighting in your second level, so you have to make sure everything looks top notch. Keep making progress.:thumbsup:

01 January 2006, 10:01 AM
ok people... I know this is a tired thread but I have finally made some more chages. if you could please let me know what you think of the update, mostly it is camera stuff but I have reworked some areas.

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